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2012 Ford Shelby GT500 Overview
Muscle car, pony car, race car, top-dog, Super Snake; the Ford Shelby GT500 has been called all of these and more. For 2012, this amped-up Mustang rests on its considerable laurels, with newly available Recaro leather front sport seats its only noteworthy upgrade. Though the hard plastics that dominate cabin décor remain unimpressive, a supercharged V8 engine, creamy smooth stick-shift transmission, track-tuned suspension, Brembo brakes, and the available SVT Performance Package ensure that cabin ambiance is the last thing potential owners are going to critique. Offered as either a hardtop coupe or convertible coupe, the GT500 defines the concept of American Iron, with what many consider a fair MSRP of just over $48,600. Even trunk space in the hardtop coupe is a tolerable 13.4 cubic feet, with the convertible delivered with 9.6 cubic feet of luggage area. Split-folding rear seats expand on that useable space just a bit, but face it, this car will rarely be used as an airport shuttle.
Major competition for the 2012 Shelby GT500 remains Chevy’s high-stepping Camaro and Dodge’s track-comfy Challenger. Neither, however, has the plain brute strength that the GT500 brings to the table. Heck, at least one review even has the vaunted Corvette taking second place in a head-to-head comparison. Heady stuff indeed.
Think this pony can run? How about a supercharged 5.4-liter V8 engine that churns out 550 hp and, when coupled with the standard 6-speed manual transmission, 3.55:1 axle ratio, and rear limited-slip differential, throws down 510 lb-ft of torque? This supercharged mill is good enough to scoot from 0-60 in 4.3 seconds according to one test, while, to top it all off, a stone-crushing 3.73:1 axel ratio is also available. Alas, the downside is that the rear-wheel-drive-only (RWD) GT500 is estimated to get only 14 mpg city/ 22 highway (still good enough to avoid a “gas-guzzler” penalty) and uses only premium unleaded gasoline.
Appearance-wise, the 2012 GT500 boasts a rear spoiler and 19-inch alloy wheels that complement its wicked, try-and-beat-me profile. Inside, such standard creature comforts as leather upholstery, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, suede and leather steering wheel and alloy dashboard trim give a nod to posh, while remote power door locks and tilt-wheel steering, as well as power windows and outside mirrors, provide that modicum of convenience expected at the Shelby’s lofty price. Further standard goodies include cruise control, a universal remote garage door opener, and manually adjustable air conditioning, with entertainment provided by a Shaker 500-watt audio system, complete with single-CD player and eight speakers. Phone pre-wiring, Bluetooth hands-free communications technology, and a USB connection are additional techno-gizmos that come standard with this hot pony.
Options include a number of packages such as the Electronics Package, with voice-activated DVD navigation and dual-zone climate control, and the SVT Performance Package, with 19-inch front and 20-inch rear forged aluminum wheels, performance tires and upgraded suspension components. Added to these goodies are a number of standalone options, like the Shaker 1,000-watt audio system, those new-for-2012 Recaro leather sport front seats and a fixed glass roof.
With all the fizz under the hood, it’s no wonder that the 2012 GT500 comes standard with massive Brembo antilock brakes (ABS). Further safety features with this muscle-bound demon include traction and stability control, front side-mounted airbags with head protection chambers, a remote antitheft alarm and a post-collision safety system. Standard dusk-sensing headlights and front fog/driving lights also help keep this road warrior out of harm's way.
Sheer, unadulterated driving exhilaration is what owners expect from the 2012 Shelby GT500, and, by all accounts – literally - that’s what they get. Somewhat low-rent cabin materials, shifter-challenging cupholders, tricky rowing between fifth and sixth gear, no telescoping steering column and a lack of driver memory systems simply won’t get in the way of the king-of-the-road feeling this super-’Stang begets. Meanwhile, a primal engine note, heady handling, raw power and head-turning looks are attributes owners just can’t get enough of. Owners stress that this is not a car that will blend into the scenery, with many prepared for a challenge at every stop light. Bring it on!
by Eric Tallberg
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